Over the past few years I have been taking a little personal survey after being together with anyone where a conversation was had. This could be at school, church, conferences, going to the movies with friends, and other get togethers you can think of. What I am watching is how conversations go. My wife (Dawn) is a master question asker kind of person. She would pepper you with tons of questions if you are together on all areas of life, faith, family and other. She is genuinely interested in what is going on with people. What is weird to me is when people are not interested back.
How many times in the past year have you been together with someone and after you were with them you realize that they did not ask a single question about you, your family, your children, your job, your hopes, your dreams … basically anything at all about you?
For me I find this is around 50% of all of my conversations. It is like we seem to be losing the art of conversation. In my mind sometimes while people are talking I have the desire to say “Enough of about you lets talk a little about me!” I have yet to use that 🙂
Now my first response is to call people Narcissist’s.
Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originated from the Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.
Calling people names does not solve anything and it also does not give anyone the benefit of the doubt. I sometimes wonder
- Have people been raised by parents who have taught them they are the only thing that matters?
- Are people just that bad at conversation that all they can talk about is themselves?
- Do people just not care about each other?
- Are people just Narcissists today in society?
I remember from reading a number of John Maxwell’s books that he always talks about “adding value” to people. The idea is that if you are going to spend any time from a few moments to a long conversation that goal is going to be to add value to that person’s life through your conversation.
When you begin a conversation with someone ask yourself which of these people you are going to be:
- Here I Am type of person – Is it all about you. What you can tell the other person about your life etc
- There you Are type of person – When you see someone you are thinking of how you can find out more about them. What is going on with their life, family etc. How can you “add value” to them in this conversation.
The truth is that all conversations should end up being a little of both of these. If someones ask you how school is going the next question you would usually ask back is “How is school going for you?” For people who struggle in conversation, you can just take any question someone has asked you and ask that same question back to them.
Process: Over the next week try and be very mindful of what type of person you are being: Here I am or There you Are
Below is a great article with some more thoughts on this topic. Enjoy